NFL power rankings: New No. 2 while Cowboys, Patriots plummet

NFL power rankings entering Week 6 of the 2023 season (previous rank in parentheses):

1. 49ers (1): What else is there to say about a team that’s been in the top spot since the season started? S.F.’s +99 point differential is already 20 better than the next team. Probably have the best defense (though that can be settled at Cleveland on Sunday). Might have the best offense. Stars on basically every unit. And second-year QB Brock Purdy continues to effectively play mistake-free football, his league-leading 123.1 passer rating testament to that.

2. Eagles (3): They’re 5-0 in successive seasons for the first time. Next up, the Jets – a team Philadelphia has never lost to in 12 previous meetings. Feels safe to slot the reigning NFC champs at 6-0 and look ahead to their Week 7 date with Miami.

3. Lions (5): For all the focus on rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, it’s veteran RB David Montgomery who’s fueled a ground game with more rushes than any team in the league save two. Sunday, Montgomery became the first Detroit rusher to top 100 yards in consecutive games since … Kevin Jones in 2004.

4. Chiefs (6): Here’s a stat that might surprise you – RB Isiah Pacheco leads Kansas City with 424 yards from scrimmage, nearly double TE Travis Kelce’s total (222).

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5. Bills (2): Just as LB Von Miller returns from the PUP list following last year’s knee injury, LB Matt Milano (leg) could be lost for the remainder of this season. Weird as this sounds, Milano might be the more valuable player to Buffalo’s defense.

6. Dolphins (7): How fast is Miami? Per Next Gen Stats, the Fins have produced the five top speeds among all plays this season and seven of the top nine. WR Tyreek Hill and RBs De’Von Achane and Raheem Mostert are responsible for them (and WR Jaylen Waddle has also cracked the top 20). Big-play Achane is averaging a ridiculous 12.1 yards per carry and 115.0 rushing yards per game, both figures best in the NFL.

7. Jaguars (14): The first team to play multiple international games in a season is now the first to win multiple – both coming against teams with winning records. Stay in Europe, Jags – it seems inevitable, and you’re apparently better for it.

8. Cowboys (4): Good thing they’re not part of the NFC West … even if it would make more sense geographically. In its two defeats (to Arizona and San Francisco), Dallas has lost by a collective 70-26. Worse, the Niners seemed to expose how limited the Mike McCarthy offense might actually be.

9. Steelers (12): They’ve gained the third-fewest yards in the league and surrendered the third most, the delta more than 600 yards. But 11 takeaways, 17 sacks and just enough clutch plays from QB Kenny Pickett can mask such warts … and propel you to the top of the AFC North.

10. Ravens (8): It’s been an uneven start, to say the least, but it’s also unusual to play four of five away from home so early in the season – and Baltimore’s three-game roadie winds to a conclusion Sunday in London.

11. Rams (9): Sure, they’re 2-3, but they’ve hung tough against the league’s top teams, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Appears WRs Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua will complement each other nicely, each getting at least 11 targets Sunday, Kupp’s 2023 debut.

12. Seahawks (10): Coming off their bye, they’re currently not scheduled to face a team with a winning record until November. Time to make serious hay toward a playoff berth.

13. Browns (13): Semi-eventful bye week with GM Andrew Berry explaining QB Deshaun Watson’s last-minute scratch in Cleveland’s previous game while defending the trade of obviously capable veteran QB2 Josh Dobbs during preseason.

14. Buccaneers (16): This marks three times in four years that QB Baker Mayfield has won three of his first four starts. His only 4-1 beginning led to a deep playoff run in Cleveland.

17. Colts (17): QB2 Gardner Minshew II may be the league’s best reliever, but Indianapolis surely didn’t count on him playing 50% of the snaps to this point – a figure that’s going to rise as Anthony Richardson’s sprained throwing shoulder heals.

18. Texans (11): No matter Sunday’s outcome, this will be their best six-game start since 2019. But it would help if Houston would run the ball better after cracking 90 yards just once so far this season.

19. Titans (21): WR DeAndre Hopkins’ 100-yard day courtesy of Ryan Tannehill was the 11th time he’s topped the century mark with a different quarterback. Get a C-note with two more passers, and Nuk sets a league record … so might be worthy lobbying for playing time for Malik Willis and rookie Will Levis.

20. Chargers (22): Did you know WR Keenan Allen owns the NFL record for most games – three – with at least 15 receptions? With wingman Mike Williams down for the count, wouldn’t be a shock if Allen extends that mark before this year is out.

21. Jets (24): Only 12 games into his career, he hardly has enough totes to qualify – but if he did, Breece Hall’s 6.3 yards per carry would be a record among RBs. Unfortunately, could be hard to sustain that with OL Alijah Vera-Tucker (Achilles) headed to injured reserve.

22. Bengals (26): They’ll only be on the road two more times before December, so maybe the comforts of home are good for QB Joe Burrow’s calf and team focus with a brutal upcoming schedule (Seattle, San Francisco, Buffalo) for a Cincinnati club that may finally otherwise be turning the corner.

23. Raiders (28): If they’re going to salvage their season and use Monday’s win as a catapult, now is the time. The Silver and Black face three one-win teams (Patriots, Bears, Giants) over the next four weeks.

24. Packers (19): No worse way to go into a bye week than off a terrible loss. But Green Bay’s next three opponents (Broncos, Vikings, Rams) have a combined four wins, so hopefully a good time for the Pack to get healthy figuratively and literally.

25. Vikings (25): Why is offensive balance often a virtue? Consider one-win Minnesota, which has thrown more passes (204) than any team in the league while attempting the fewest runs (91). However HC Kevin O’Connell’s calculus will probably have to change appreciably with All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson’s hamstring injury forcing him to the sideline for the foreseeable future.

26. Bears (32): The Justin Fields-to-DJ Moore Show has sparked Chicago’s revival. But look closer, and you’ll also note a running game averaging better than 170 yards the past two weeks and some encouraging signs of life on defense at Washington. The schedule also suggests Da Bears could easily be a .500 team from here on out.

27. Commanders (15): Only Denver has surrendered more points than Washington’s 160. Only Minnesota has turned it over more times than Washington’s 10. Lethal combo.

28. Broncos (29): Naturally, when you crown yourselves with dopey “snowcapped” helmets, another Rocky Mountain meltdown is completely inevitable.

29. Giants (30): S Jason Pinnock’s 102-yard pick-six Sunday is the longest play of the season NFL-wide and provided Big Blue’s first TD before halftime this season. Some consolation for a team that hasn’t run an offensive play with the lead yet and has now been outscored by a league-most 91 points.

30. Cardinals (27): No NFC team is blitzing less frequently – worth wondering if that’s the right approach given the way Arizona’s D has been torn up the past two weeks.

31. Patriots (23): If the dynasty wasn’t already dead, then life support has officially been unplugged. Bill Belichick wants to “start over” after suffering the two worst defeats of his career with an offense that’s been shut out of the end zone for 10 consecutive quarters and has turned it over 10 times.

32. Panthers (31): The NFL’s only winless team just turned it in its worst defensive performance (42 points allowed) of the season. Its reward? A trip to Miami. Woof.

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